Democrats Cement Majority in State House – Now What?

Member Group : Center Square

(The Center Square) – Democrats cemented control of the Pennsylvania House on Tuesday after winning three special elections near Pittsburgh.

Joe McAndrew, Abigail Salisbury and Matthew Gergely all sailed to victory in their respective districts, according to state election returns.

McAndrew will fill the empty seat left behind after Rep. Tony DeLuca died in October. The districts won by Salisbury and Gergely became vacant after U.S. Rep. Summer Lee and Lt. Gov. Austin Davis were elected to higher office in November.

The victories mean Democrats will hold 102 seats in the House of Representatives, capturing a narrow one-seat advantage after more than a decade in the minority.

Rozzi made the decision when negotiations with Republican leaders to establish a set of operating rules – typically a mere formality that unfolds in the first days of each new two-year legislative session – hit a wall last month.

The confluence of events – starting with Rozzi’s unlikely ascent to the House’s highest-ranking position – saw Republicans forfeit the power of their functional one-seat majority until Tuesday’s elections, and the anticipated Democratic wins it would bring.

Now, one seat ahead, it appears Rozzi won’t need to broker any deals with his colleagues across the aisle to establish rules, which give the chamber the ability to form committees, hold hearings and schedule votes.

In an interview with WITF, however, the speaker said he’d weigh all of the public input his bipartisan workgroup heard while on their statewide listening tour to find compromise on operating rules.

Perhaps more crucially, however, Democrats can forge ahead on their No. 1 legislative priority: passing a constitutional amendment that gives adult survivors of child sexual abuse two years to sue their perpetrators in civil court.

Republicans in the Senate teed up the amendment, and two others, for a vote in the lower chamber last month. But the package, which included voter ID and regulatory reform, riled Democrats. And with no rules in place, the lower chamber soon missed the deadline to approve any amendments in time for the May primary election.

Regional Editor

Christen joins The Center Square as its Pennsylvania News Editor and brings with her more than a decade of experience covering state and national policy issues from all angles. She’s a Pennsylvania State University alumna and has been published in the The Washington Examiner, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, RealClear and Broad+Liberty, among others.